Pre winter checklist for homeowners


Some tips:

  • Complete activities requiring a ladder all at once on a day when the weather is nice and the ground is dry.
  • If you have a technician out to check your heating system, have him check related equipment like air cleaners, humidifiers, and heat exchanging ventilators.
  • If you have a professional out to deal with windows, siding or roofing, have them check your entire exterior for additional problems.


Central heating

  • Make sure all air vents are free of obstructions.
  • Adjust your vents by opening those near the floor and closing those near the ceiling for better air circulation during the winter months.
  • Test your furnace before the weather gets very cold.
  • Consider having your heating system checked by a professional.
  • Have your humidifier cleaned and checked.
  • If your heating system is older than 15 years, consider replacing it with a modern, efficient unit.
  • Replace or clean your furnace air filters.

Window or through-wall air conditioners: Install a winter cover over the unit or remove it for the winter and seal the opening.


  • Make sure attic insulation is at least R-30.
  • Make sure crawl space is insulated.
  • If at all possible, make sure walls are insulated to R19.
  • Insulate any pipes and heating ducts that run through cold unheated crawl spaces or attics.
  • If your house was built before 1950, it may be an excellent candidate for cost-saving blown-in wall insulation.

Attic ventilation

  • Make sure attic insulation doesn’t cover ventilation vents in the eaves (also called soffits or overhangs). This helps prevent winter ice dams.
  • Make sure ridge vent and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.
  • Make sure bird and rodent screens for attic vents are in good shape.


  • Vacuum under and behind freezer and fridge. Can greatly improve efficiency of unit.
  • Have chimney cleaned and checked by a chimney sweep.
  • Have deck power washed and resealed.


  • If you have the older type removable wooden storm windows, make arrangements to have them re-installed.
  • Replace or repair any broken window locks or latches.
  • Caulk around frames.
  • Check the condition of the putty around the window panes. If chunks are falling off, it’s time to have fresh putty installed. This is most commonly handled by painters. If the windows are single pane or in pretty bad shape, it will probably be more cost effective to replace the entire window with a modern, energy efficient window.
  • Repair any cracked or broken window panes, or damaged screens..
  • Make sure all windows open and shut properly. This is very important in case of fire.

Exterior Walls

  • Check the condition of the mortar joints. Repair cracks and crumbling mortar before more extensive damage occurs.
  • Check condition of exterior paint. It is best to repaint before the very first sign of cracking and peeling. If paint is in bad shape, this is a good time to have maintenance free vinyl siding installed. If you have siding installed, ask your contractor about ways to increase the insulation in exterior walls at the same time.
  • Check for rotted wood.
  • Check for mud trails, sawdust, and other signs of termite infestation.
  • Make sure no firewood piles are leaning up against the side of the house.
  • Check for gaps around pipes and wires that go through exterior walls. Caulk so that now air can leak in or out.
  • Remove, drain and coil all garden hoses.
  • Turn off the interior cut-off valve for each outdoor faucet and then open the outdoor faucet so that no water can freeze in the pipe that connects the two.

Rainwater Protection

  • Make sure the ground around the foundation drops 1/2 inch for every foot as you move away from the foundation. The drop should be greater if water flows are heavy in that area.
  • Make sure all concrete patios, walks, and driveways slope away from foundation.
  • Keep gutters clean at all times. During the fall it is better to clean them several times rather than waiting until the end of the leaf season.
  • When it is raining, go outside and using binoculars or opera glasses, inspect your roof and gutters.
  • Make sure the water is not coming down behind the gutters and that the gutters are properly sloped toward the downspouts. Also check that all support brackets and nails are securely in place. Downspouts should discharge water well away from the foundation.
  • If your gutters are rusty, it is time to replace them with new aluminum or vinyl gutters.
  • If there are any signs of a leak or damaged shingles or flashing, have the roof checked. Generally, if the roof is leaking and is more than 15 years old (with regular shingles), it may be more cost effective to have a new roof put on.
  • Make sure all stairwell drains are clear of debris. Consider building a permanent roof over exterior stairwell to prevent debris and rain from getting into the stairwell.
  • Make sure the rims of your window wells are high enough to prevent ground water from flowing into them. Install covers over any window wells exposed to the rain.


  • Make sure all smoke detectors are working with fresh batteries.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm near the furnace and any fireplaces that get used.
  • Make sure your house number is well lit and clearly readable from the street.
  • Check all hand rails inside and out to make sure they are strong enough to prevent a fall and extend far enough to provide ample support.
  • Make sure all entrances are lit by lights connected to motion and light detectors.
  • Test your security alarm.


  • Make sure all fence posts are sound.
  • Make sure all gates open and close properly.
  • Make arrangements for any lawn renovation work.
  • Prune shrubs and trees.
  • Make arrangements for fall leaf raking.
  • Make sure removal tools and supplies are on hand.

Improvements to Consider

  • Thermal replacement windows
  • New energy efficient front door
  • Kitchen remodeling
  • Bathroom remodeling
  • Skylights
  • Siding installed with wall insulation
  • Interior painting and decorating

We have lots of year end specials.  Call us to schedule an appointment.


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